The master of shortcuts
Hong Kong is a city that prides itself on speed and efficiency, but the quick-fix approach can do more harm than good.
The master of shortcuts
5 min read
Words by Tim Ho
Photography by Pierfrancesco Celada
Hong Kong is a place that literally changes by the minute. Whilst this can be the beauty of the city, always evolving and moving, it has also left a sense that nothing feels built to last; everything is temporary.
Companies here excel at combating the fast changing industries. We are quick on our feet, identify a problem, and we fix it right away. That mentality has created a lot of convenience for the consumers, but also encourages shortcuts and wastage.
Walking around Hong Kong local districts, the shortcut mentality is ingrained in the culture. You see internet cables draped across windows from one building to the next, patchwork concrete on the road, taped up signs – the physical indicators of quick work shows the speed at which we try to resolve problems. What can take a day or two for us can take weeks or months in Europe. We want things done now, perfection can come later.
This attitude to seemingly unimportant everyday quick fixes have spilled over into the commercial world. We can’t tell you how many times we have received ‘shortcut project briefs’, ones that someone has typed up hurriedly in an email without any consideration, clearly just trying to cross off the tasks on their list;
"No need to spend too much time on the research, the lifespan of the brand would be two-three years then we need to have a new image to attract new customers."
These are the types of briefs that we dread, that make us question what is the purpose of design and effort if it’ll just be painted over in a year or two.
Companies often think of branding as purely a visual tool that can hide the shortcomings of organisations or products, serving only as a pretty visual aid to attract short-term customers. This is a shortcut. Just like lying, shortcuts will inevitably be revealed causing the business more problems in the long run and making the root problems harder to solve.
True branding starts from working on the value of the services, products, and the organisation itself, with visual identity coming after to represent or even celebrate the change.
It’s time to pay up